The Wretched - Part II, Chapter 7
"It's my fault," Bulma shook her head over the sink of dishes she was washing up. "You see your father and me and think having the hots for a warmongering maniac is a good thing."
"Mo-om." Bulla had dish-drying duty. She didn't know which was worse, her mother not speaking to them at all, or her wailing laments. Mom had given them the silent treatment for weeks. Literally. She'd been furious with her dad for not killing Broly and that had spilled over to the rest of them. Now, every time they saw each other, she went into one of her woe-is-me speeches. "Mom, you do realize you're beginning to sound like Aunt Chi Chi."
She stood there, suds slipping off her hands back into the water. "Damn it! That's your fault to."
"Don't 'Mom' me. I've heard the sob story. Bulla," she turned to face her, "this isn't the same as with your father--"
"That's what he said."
"You should've listened."
"I did. I listened to myself. I'm not in love. I'm not delusional." Her mother snorted. "But I know what's really going on inside him. He isn't evil. It's the power. If he can learn to control power now that he isn't the 'Legendary Super Saiyan' he won't so out of control, and then he could try to put some kind of life together for himself"
Mom sighed. "The sad thing is I can't say your theory is completely nuts. The thing that worries me, all of us, is this is a ticking time bomb. We don't know why his power level dropped so much," she glanced at Bulla's forehead, "or how long those bands are going to work."
She squelched major guilt. "Broly's training hard. I think he really wants to try." She fought to keep the nerves out of her voice. "In fact, I should go check on them." She started for the back door.
"What you should do, young lady, is your homework. You have big make up exams coming up. You fail those and it's summer school for you."
Maybe Broly could wait. She headed upstairs instead to crack the books. Over the next couple of hours she read, typed notes … and thought about him. She slammed her books shut. She thought mostly of him. She tried to screw up her indignation. It was his fault she'd missed so much school anyway. He should take the tests. Nah, no good. Truth was, school and a whole lot more would mean squat if he couldn't control his power once he got it back. She rubbed her forehead. She'd grown used to the dull ache. Her mental trap was like a dam. It held and cut off the flow of power, but when it gave way, the power would rush back to its natural course. It wanted to get back, hated the tiny confines of her psyche.
She really needed to see how he was doing.
- - - - - - - - -
He and Trunks stood on a naturally-formed ledge overlooking Raman Lake, a scattering of what looked like Go stones lay between them. From the look on his face, Broly couldn't figure out how, as though they weren't supposed to be there. And from the bruises and abrasions covering him, the stones weren't the only things he hadn't mastered the past few weeks.
She moved closer. Trunks was explaining the problem to him. "To keep the stones rotating requires concentration, a little finesse, and above all, discipline. You can't just go full force. Let's try again."
She absently tousled Trunks' hair. He swatted her hand. "Hey, I have a date with Sammy in an hour."
"It's not like you weren't gonna clean up first ... right?" He ducked his head. "Ewww! I can tell you've been training before your little teaching game here. You. Go shower. Now!"
He sniffed his arm. "I didn't think I was that bad. We're going to the beach. Not a resta--"
"Don't ca-are." She pointed. "March."
"No thanks. I'd rather fly." He gave her a worried look quickly covered by a good tossling in return and a quick peck on the cheek. He took off.
She refocused on Broly. It was still kind of a shock to see him with dark hair. Normal. His hand was clinched so tight, but when she moved towards him, he relaxed. The silence sat charged, uneasy. Without and within. "They aren't taking it easy on you, huh?"
"It is a ... unique experience."
She sat down beside him, motioning for him to join her. "An informative one, I hope."
He didn't respond at first, brow furrowed in thought. "You are close to your brother."
"And your father."
"They did go after me to rescue me."
"No. They would have done that because you are theirs. But there is a bond. They ... care for you. And you for them." He closed his eyes. She barely heard him speak. "What a fascinating idea."
That was a good sign, right? "So, how is it--"
"You realize your efforts will fail."
"Now that's not a constructive attitude to have. This is your chance--"
He shook his head. "This only proves I was right all along." He looked her in the eyes. "I am not sure if I should thank you or curse you for this... There are no words for it. But it will end, and you will have to kill me."
"Then why bother agreeing to try."
He paused. "A moment of weakness I shall not repeat."
Her throat burned. "Broly--"
"You swore you would not leave me."
She turned her head, fighting the sting in her eyes. He didn't let up, leaning into her ear. "You already feel the power slipping away from you. I know; I feel it pulling towards me. Our time is running out.
"Come. Your family has been preparing me. It's time I do the same for you." He helped her up and led her back into the sparse woods surrounding the lake. She was glad to be behind him, that he couldn't see her wiping the tears that escaped her efforts to hold them back. Even though she knew he knew anyway.
He pulled up short. Shoulders squared, ears cocked. "Stay here." He took off into the trees, a blur, and then gone. She was about give into the urge to call after him when he just as suddenly reemerged, something in his hands. A squirrel, very small. Very still.
"What did you do."
He shrugged. "These rodents run wild across your lands. Numerous."
"That. is not. the point. It wasn't doing anything to you."
"No, but it will serve my purpose." He laid it on the ground at her feet.
"Your lungs are indeed strong, Highness." He had the nerve to smirk. "Let us see if your resolve can match." She kept glaring at him. He sighed. "In truth, I thought it would be easier with the creature already dead."
"What you did to the portal on the ship. What you have done to my energy blasts. You must do to this body."
She just stared at him. He'd gone nuts. Okay, so arguably he was nuts all along, but he couldn't possibly be suggesting--
It can be done.
Shut up. Whatever you are. Great. Now she was going nuts. 'Cause the last thing she wanted or needed was that voice telling her to go there. Hell, she didn't want to hear any voice she couldn't associate with a known person.
The horror must have shown. "Get used to the idea. It will be the only way to stop me."
He left her then, the wind and fear blowing a chill across her. The squirrel's fur rustled in its wake. No way.
Assuming you're prepared to deal with the consequences...
That voice she remembered. Maybe she was deluding herself. What if she... Okay, start with the fur. That wouldn't be so bad. It was almost too easy to see the structure, unravel it. When she refocused with her physical eyes, a bald spot lay in its back, remnant dust scattered through the remaining strands. Before she could think too much, she focused on skin, sinew. Lab, think of biology lab. Clinical. Detached.
I thought it would be easier with the creature already dead.
The memory jogged her concentration. She saw her handiwork, hyper-decayed flesh in parts, congealed blood and muscle in others.
She threw up where she stood. Tried putting it back together, but that failed.
She backed away from the thing she'd wrought until her back hit a tree, sliding down, letting the digging bark give some penance for her act. She couldn't leave it like that. She broke branches with her mind, piled them around the poor thing. And lit it ablaze in pyre.
Broly's presence brushed her door, as though some of her anguish seeped through to his side, but she ignored it, unable to deal with him. She couldn't have been wrong. There was too much to lose.
There is another way.
She ignored it too, the sense again, the voice within that had no origin. The same one that, at first, always seemed to pull her fat out of the fire. Instinct, she'd thought. Trustworthy. But staring at what was burning before her, she wasn't so sure anymore.
- - - - - - - - -
She dreamed of fire, blazes that melted everything in it path, glorying in the destruction. Destruction, annihilation meant freedom. Release. She woke so dizzy she thought she'd be sick, her head like a jackhammer on steroids. Her bedroom door banged open, someone had her around her waist. Male. He called her name, what sounded like her name, but there was no effort to answer. What part of her that could focus was all inside, dealing with the meltdown inside her head.
His power leaked all over, spilling into recesses of her psyche. Barely was one patch made when another spot split open. No warning, no slow building. It had all just erupted, heading towards its master.
His presence was palatable in her head. "Bit busy, Dad."
"What in the name of the gods." Anger mingled with his astonishment. "The bands were a lie--"
"Inside you. His power has been inside you all this time! Do you know how dangerous--"
She plugged another crack in the dam. "You can rant at me later. If I can't hold this, it all flows back to Broly." She almost thought he was gone he was so quiet. Then he did leave, both her mind and body. She continued fighting, but the tide was winning and in the bottom of her soul she knew it was just a matter of time. Broly's consciousness stirred beside her, then flared in struggle before disappearing. What? And that one moment was all it took, responded as though it knew its master needed it. She was lost.
When she regained her bearing, the power was gone, a familiar beacon calling her outside, far out into the country. With every passing mile, her heart sank a little more. Her open senses told the tale. Broly was beaming power as much as ever before, and he was in battle. She didn't know when Uncle Goku had come, but by the time she arrived the two megapowers – one fused, one on his own -- were at full-scale war.
Time was up.
If you're to do this--
"The heart is quickest."
Broly. Once upon a time this would've been so easy. She never thought she'd miss the amoral strum of the Wretched's awakening. But she couldn't depend on that now. And even if she could, it was far too dangerous. She took a breath, focusing on his ribs. A crack, but then all she could see was the squirrel, and she almost got sick all over again. She started diffusing his power blasts, racking her brain for any other alternative, but coming up empty. Gogenta had the upper hand. If she could keep going ... but the familiar fluctuation flitted across her senses. The fusion was running out again.
Broly slammed a massive ball into Gogenta, and in a blink, was before her, her arm painfully in his grasp, his face snarling, desperate fury all for her. "You promised."
She fell to her knees. "I can't do it. I can't. I'm sorry."
He placed his hand underneath the fall of her tears. "Are these for me, Highness? Or for those who will die because of your failure."
Yes." He wiped a tear from her cheek. "I felt it, but not enough. You promised me." She felt the rage building. "You betrayed me." The gathering energy made her raise her face. He was aiming towards her family, exhausted from the fusion. Not again.
"What shall it be, Highness. Will you fulfill your oath and stop me, or will you let them die." His beam was growing brighter, hotter. She couldn't dispense it. They'd be here for eternity playing that game.
There is another way.
That voice again. She didn't have time for it either.
Louder. Time for nothing else. And it thumped. Hard. Insistent. She'd been so wrong; she couldn't afford to be wrong again.
And nothing else to lose.
It beckoned; she followed. A little thought niggled deep down. A pounding on a long forgotten door. She reached it. There, behind it, she felt something so warm and strong. Oh, she remembered. The power she'd stuffed so far down the day the Wretched came full blown. But it was dangerous. Too much. She stared to pull back, but it banged louder. Clawed at the door to make its way out. Somewhere towards the surface the first wave of Broly's power was unleashed. She had no other choice.
It flooded her, overwhelmed her. She fought, but it soothed her fear, so she let it. This time, she could embrace it. And it showed her the way. How ridiculously simple it was.
She surfaced with the power, opened the door between her haven and Broly's presence and flowed right in. Outside, she'd disrupted the one blast he'd shot off. As for the rest ... his power fired erupting infernos within him, beautiful, horrifying. Sweet divine, how had he kept from drowning in full madness all this time? The initial waves hit her ... wild, unfettered, almost painful in the need to discharge them. It knew her now, knew she was coming for it and it would not go so easily as before. His power fought her; he fought her, deep-rooted fear tingeing the struggle. She shushed its worry. It would not be as with the bands. Not suppression, numbness. He still pushed back, but he was no match for her now. She set to her task, weaving, joining, tendrils connecting, diffusing his waves almost as quickly as they came, neutralized them within her own energy.
She opened her eyes, receded to herself. Her own full power, not locked away anymore, but banked like a comforting fire. A soft glow surrounded her for an instant then faded away. He was staring at her as dumbfounded as she'd ever seen him. "You can try powering down now."
She held her breath – he seemed to as well – but slowly, surely, he did as she asked. His golden hair dimmed to dark brown. He powered up again, to heights as blinding as a small sun, and little electric hums skittered through her psyche in tune, dispersing the overload. Over and over he powered up, even down, a wondrous child with a new, amazing toy. He started at his hands, then at her, as thought answers to the universe were within them. "I—I don't understand."
"It's simple. I kept my promise."
- - - - - - - - - -
Bulla pulled a few more shirts out of her closest, revealing her pink Frada jacket. She'd never gotten to wear it. She pulled it down. Maybe Pan would want it. She stuffed the others in her bag, zipped it up, slung it over her shoulder. Took one last look at her childhood room. Closed the door.
Most of the gang waited by the ship. Trunks held her mom who'd been crying, she could tell, but she'd dried her tears for the big moment. She sent her daughter a smile, mouthed, "I love you." Bulla took a moment to create the mental door. "I love you too." Her dad was nowhere in sight. No surprise; he hated big emotional scenes. She'd said most of her goodbyes in private, but the send off was nice.
She ruffled Pan's hair. "Glad to see you're okay. There's something for you on my bed." The kid took off.
Uncle Goku scratched his head. "I'm still not sure I understand what happened."
"Think of Broly like a sink, his power like running faucet. You all know how to open the drain to keep the power from overflowing. Broly doesn't. Or rather, can't. Not on his own. I'm now his drain plug."
"So you're joined at the hip."
"More like the mind."
"And if something happens to you?"
She started to say something flip, but simply answered, "We're linked in more ways than one."
Uncle Goku wasn't happy about that. "You don't have to leave, you know. Maybe we can convince him to stay."
"He's a stubborn Saiyan." She smiled. "Besides, he's not the only one who needs to go. The world seems small now; there's a whole big universe out there to get lost in." To find yourself in.
He hugged her, understanding what went unsaid. "We're only a phone call away."
"Or a thought." Trunks.
She boarded the ship, got her gear settled. Broly was seated on the floor. "You're letting me drive?"
"You seem to have a knack for taking control."
She stuck her tongue out at him and strapped in, suggested he should do the same in a passenger seat. "So where are we headed."
"I doubt the places I've been want to see me return."
"Point taken. Mom and Dad loaded a good catalog of known planets into the computer bank." She punched a few keys, pulled up images. "Hey, that planet's purple! Cool. Shall we head for the Big Plum Marble?" He looked at her like she was nuts. "It's an Earth joke. You'd have to live here."
She did her checks, then checked again. No sign. She took a deep breath, hitting the rockets for launch.
"I refuse to say goodbye, Princess."
She closed her eyes. At last. "Never." His warmth swelled inside her. His pride. She returned it and the hum in her heart took her from the planet into the stars.
She opened her eyes as the moon sunk beneath them.
"Still see dreams, Highness?"
Her gaze shifted to him. "Yeah, I do."
All characters herein are the property of Akira Toriyama and used without permission. This work of fanfiction is for entertainment purposes only.